Lethbridge Police are urging motorists not to leave unattended vehicles running or the keys inside – or risk returning to an empty parking spot.
Data released in Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, shows 29 per cent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta. The report points out about 62 vehicles are stolen in the province every day – more than three times the national average.
Locally, vehicle thefts increased significantly between 2016 and 2017. Last year a total of 319 vehicles were reported stolen compared to 172 in 2016. Year to date in 2018 (to the end of February) there have been 74 vehicle thefts – 27 in January and 47 in February. In many of the cases the vehicles were either left running or culprits were able to access keys that had been left/hidden inside. Further, the majority of the vehicles were recovered locally which suggests the thefts are being committed by culprits in an effort to get from point A to B.
“Unattended vehicles that are left running are an easy target,” said Insp. Tom Ascroft, of the Criminal Investigation Division, noting that police are also seeing a lot of vehicles stolen because the keys were left inside. “And hiding them in a console or glove box doesn’t make a difference.”
Of the incidents in 2018, a number of them involved repeat victims where keys had been left inside.
Police are once again reminding the public to lock it or lose it.
-Never leave an unattended vehicle running – even for a few moments
-Never leave keys inside a vehicle – hidden or otherwise
-Never leave valuables inside a vehicle
-Always lock the doors and secure the windows
-Park in well-lit, well-travelled areas